Unison

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Perfect unison
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In music, unison is two or more musical parts that sound either the same pitch or pitches separated by intervals of one or more octaves, usually at the same time. Rhythmic unison is another term for homorhythm. [1]

Contents

Definition

unison
Inverse octave
Name
Other namesperfect unison, prime, perfect prime
AbbreviationP1
Size
Semitones 0
Interval class 0
Just interval 1:1
Cents
Equal temperament 0
Just intonation 0

Two pitches that are the same or two that move as one. [2]

Unison or perfect unison (also called a prime, or perfect prime) [3] may refer to the (pseudo-)interval formed by a tone and its duplication (in German, Unisono, Einklang, or Prime), for example C–C, as differentiated from the second, C–D, etc. In the unison the two pitches have the ratio of 1:1 or 0 half steps and zero cents. Although two tones in unison are considered to be the same pitch, they are still perceivable as coming from separate sources, whether played on instruments of a different type: Loudspeaker.svg play unison on C, piano and guitar  ; or of the same type: Loudspeaker.svg play unison on C, two pianos  . This is because a pair of tones in unison come from different locations or can have different "colors" (timbres), i.e. come from different musical instruments or human voices. Voices with different colors have, as sound waves, different waveforms. These waveforms have the same fundamental frequency but differ in the amplitudes of their higher harmonics. The unison is considered the most consonant interval while the near unison is considered the most dissonant. The unison is also the easiest interval to tune. The unison is abbreviated as "P1".

However, the unison was questioned by Zarlino as an interval for lacking contrast and compared to a point in geometry:

Equality is never found in consonances or intervals, and the unison is to the musician what the point is to the geometer. A point is the beginning of a line, although, it is not itself a line. But a line is not composed of points, since a point has no length, width, or depth that can be extended, or joined to another point. So a unison is only the beginning of consonance or interval; it is neither consonance nor interval, for like the point it is incapable of extension. [4]

Performance ensembles

"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" melody doubled in unison.
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"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" melody doubled in four octaves.
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piano Twinkle Twinkle in octaves.png
"Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" melody doubled in four octaves. Loudspeaker.svg Play   piano

Several singers singing a melody together. [2]

In orchestral music unison can mean the simultaneous playing of a note (or a series of notes constituting a melody) by different instruments, either at the same pitch; or in a different octave, for example, cello and double bass (all'unisono). Typically a section string player plays unison with the rest of the section. Occasionally the Italian word divisi (meaning divided, abbrev. div.) marks a point where an instrumental section, typically the first violins, is to be divided into two groups for rendering passages that might, for example, include full chords. Thus, in the divisi first violins the "outside" players (nearer the audience) might play the top note of the chord, while the "inside" seated players play the middle note, and the second violins play the bottom note. At the point where the first violins no longer play divisi, the score may indicate this with unison (abbrev. unis.).

When an entire choir sings the main melody, the choir usually sings in unison. Music in which all the notes sung are in unison is called monophonic. In a choir with two or more sections, such as for different vocal ranges, each section typically sings in unison. Part singing is when two or more voices sing different notes. Homophony is when choir members sing different pitches but with the same rhythm. Polyphony is when the chorus sings multiple independent melodies.

Synthesizer

On synthesizers, the term unison is used to describe two or more oscillators that are slightly detuned in correspondence to each other, which makes the sound fatter.[ clarification needed ] This technique is so popular that some modern virtual analog synthesisers have a special oscillator type called "super saw" or "hyper saw" that generates several detuned sawtooth waves simultaneously.[ citation needed ]

See also

Sources

  1. Rushton, Julian. "Unison [prime]" . Grove Music Online . Oxford University Press. Retrieved May 4, 2020.
  2. 1 2 Benward, Bruce, and Marilyn Nadine Saker (2003). Music: In Theory and Practice, Vol. I, seventh edition, p. 364. Boston: McGraw-Hill. ISBN   978-0-07-294262-0.
  3. Benward & Saker (2003), p. 53.
  4. Thomas Street Christensen (2004). Rameau and Musical Thought in the Enlightenment, p. 76. ISBN   978-0-521-61709-3.

Further reading

Related Research Articles

Fundamental frequency Lowest frequency of a periodic waveform, such as sound

The fundamental frequency, often referred to simply as the fundamental, is defined as the lowest frequency of a periodic waveform. In music, the fundamental is the musical pitch of a note that is perceived as the lowest partial present. In terms of a superposition of sinusoids, the fundamental frequency is the lowest frequency sinusoidal in the sum of harmonically related frequencies, or the frequency of the difference between adjacent frequencies. In some contexts, the fundamental is usually abbreviated as f0, indicating the lowest frequency counting from zero. In other contexts, it is more common to abbreviate it as f1, the first harmonic.

Musical tuning

In music, there are two common meanings for tuning:

Harmony Aspect of music

In music, harmony is the process by which the composition of individual sounds, or superpositions of sounds, is analysed by hearing. Usually, this means simultaneously occurring frequencies, pitches, or chords.

In music theory, an interval is the difference in pitch between two sounds. An interval may be described as horizontal, linear, or melodic if it refers to successively sounding tones, such as two adjacent pitches in a melody, and vertical or harmonic if it pertains to simultaneously sounding tones, such as in a chord.

Enharmonic

In modern musical notation and tuning, an enharmonic equivalent is a note, interval, or key signature that is equivalent to some other note, interval, or key signature but "spelled", or named differently. Thus, the enharmonic spelling of a written note, interval, or chord is an alternative way to write that note, interval, or chord.

Perfect fifth musical interval

In music theory, a perfect fifth is the musical interval corresponding to a pair of pitches with a frequency ratio of 3:2, or very nearly so.

Monophony Musical texture

In music, monophony is the simplest of musical textures, consisting of a melody, typically sung by a single singer or played by a single instrument player without accompanying harmony or chords. Many folk songs and traditional songs are monophonic. A melody is also considered to be monophonic if a group of singers sings the same melody together at the unison or with the same melody notes duplicated at the octave. If an entire melody is played by two or more instruments or sung by a choir with a fixed interval, such as a perfect fifth, it is also said to be monophony. The musical texture of a song or musical piece is determined by assessing whether varying components are used, such as an accompaniment part or polyphonic melody lines.

Relative pitch is the ability of a person to identify or re-create a given musical note by comparing it to a reference note and identifying the interval between those two notes. Relative pitch implies some or all of the following abilities:

Semitone musical interval

A semitone, also called a half step or a half tone, is the smallest musical interval commonly used in Western tonal music, and it is considered the most dissonant when sounded harmonically. It is defined as the interval between two adjacent notes in a 12-tone scale. For example, C is adjacent to C; the interval between them is a semitone.

Major third musical interval

In classical music, a third is a musical interval encompassing three staff positions, and the major third is a third spanning four semitones. Along with the minor third, the major third is one of two commonly occurring thirds. It is qualified as major because it is the larger of the two: the major third spans four semitones, the minor third three. For example, the interval from C to E is a major third, as the note E lies four semitones above C, and there are three staff positions from C to E. Diminished and augmented thirds span the same number of staff positions, but consist of a different number of semitones.

The intervals from the tonic (keynote) in an upward direction to the second, to the third, to the sixth, and to the seventh scale degrees of a major scale are called major.

Major seventh musical interval

In music from Western culture, a seventh is a musical interval encompassing seven staff positions, and the major seventh is one of two commonly occurring sevenths. It is qualified as major because it is the larger of the two. The major seventh spans eleven semitones, its smaller counterpart being the minor seventh, spanning ten semitones. For example, the interval from C to B is a major seventh, as the note B lies eleven semitones above C, and there are seven staff positions from C to B. Diminished and augmented sevenths span the same number of staff positions, but consist of a different number of semitones.

The intervals from the tonic (keynote) in an upward direction to the second, to the third, to the sixth, and to the seventh scale degrees (of a major scale are called major.

Major sixth musical interval

In music from Western culture, a sixth is a musical interval encompassing six note letter names or staff positions, and the major sixth is one of two commonly occurring sixths. It is qualified as major because it is the larger of the two. The major sixth spans nine semitones. Its smaller counterpart, the minor sixth, spans eight semitones. For example, the interval from C up to the nearest A is a major sixth. It is a sixth because it encompasses six note letter names and six staff positions. It is a major sixth, not a minor sixth, because the note A lies nine semitones above C. Diminished and augmented sixths span the same number of note letter names and staff positions, but consist of a different number of semitones.

The intervals from the tonic (keynote) in an upward direction to the second, to the third, to the sixth, and to the seventh scale degrees (of a major scale are called major.

Minor sixth musical interval

In Western classical music, a minor sixth is a musical interval encompassing six staff positions, and is one of two commonly occurring sixths. It is qualified as minor because it is the smaller of the two: the minor sixth spans eight semitones, the major sixth nine. For example, the interval from A to F is a minor sixth, as the note F lies eight semitones above A, and there are six staff positions from A to F. Diminished and augmented sixths span the same number of staff positions, but consist of a different number of semitones.

Consonance and dissonance Categorizations of simultaneous or successive sounds

In music, consonance and dissonance are categorizations of simultaneous or successive sounds. Within the Western tradition, consonance is typically associated with sweetness, pleasantness, and acceptability; dissonance is associated with harshness, unpleasantness, or unacceptability, although this depends also on familiarity and musical expertise. The terms form a structural dichotomy in which they define each other by mutual exclusion: a consonance is what is not dissonant, and a dissonance is what is not consonant. However, a finer consideration shows that the distinction forms a gradation, from the most consonant to the most dissonant. As Hindemith stressed, "The two concepts have never been completely explained, and for a thousand years the definitions have varied". The term sonance has been proposed to encompass or refer indistinctly to the terms consonance and dissonance.

microKORG Synthesizer released in 2002

The microKORG is a MIDI-capable digital synthesizer/vocoder from Korg featuring DSP analog modelling. The synthesizer is built in such a way that it is essentially a Korg MS-2000 with programmable step arpeggiator, a less advanced vocoder, lack of motion sequencing, lack of an XLR microphone input, and in a smaller case with fewer real-time control knobs.

Voicing (music)

In music theory, voicing refers to one of two closely related concepts:

  1. How a musician or group distributes, or spaces, notes and chords on one or more instruments
  2. The simultaneous vertical placement of notes in relation to each other; this relates to the concepts of spacing and doubling
Diminished second musical interval

In modern Western tonal music theory, a diminished second is the interval produced by narrowing a minor second by one chromatic semitone. It is enharmonically equivalent to a perfect unison. Thus, it is the interval between notes on two adjacent staff positions, or having adjacent note letters, altered in such a way that they have no pitch difference in twelve-tone equal temperament. An example is the interval from a B to the C immediately above; another is the interval from a B to the C immediately above.

Oberheim OB12 Synthesizer released in 2000

The Oberheim OB•12 is a Virtual Analog synthesizer, designed and realised by the Italian musical instrument manufacturer Viscount, in production between 2000 and 2005.

In musical terminology, divisi, or as typically printed div.,” is an instruction to divide a single section of instruments into multiple subsections. This usually applies to the violins of the string section in an orchestra, although violas, cellos, and double basses can also be divided. Typically, 4-part French Horn sections include divided sections if Horns 1/2 and/or 3/4 are not playing the same music ("a2"). Other brass instruments can also be divided but it is not as frequent as with the Horn section. Woodwinds - especially Flutes and Clarinets - also utilize "divisi" to divide music between parts and even between players of the same part.

The term "four-part harmony" refers to music written for four voices, or for some other musical medium—four musical instruments or a single keyboard instrument, for example—for which the various musical parts can give a different note for each chord of the music.